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Plans for public health in England are confused, warn MPs

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7099 (Published 01 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7099
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

The government’s plans to reorganise public health services in England have been extensively criticised by the influential House of Commons health select committee.

The all party committee of MPs published its 100 page report on the proposed changes on 2 November, raising many concerns and urging key amendments. The proposals are included in the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently at committee stage in the House of Lords.

The report says that “policy confusion” over levels of funding is making service planning “impossible” and that uncertainty around staffing is causing public health specialists to leave the profession. It also warns that the proposed new commissioning structures lack coordination and cohesion, while the new “health premium” payments could widen rather than reduce health inequalities.

The MPs say that they are “unconvinced” by the government’s “responsibility deal” with the food and drinks industry to tackle problems such as obesity and alcohol. The committee’s chairman, Stephen Dorrell, a former Conservative health secretary, said, “The government must set out …

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